Culture at Toptal®

Toptal is a company that values attitude over everything.

An overview

Toptal is a company that values attitude over everything.

Our vision is to be the greatest talent company in the world, and we’ve scaled faster than any other talent company in history through our relentless attitude toward innovation and strong execution. Our unique success comes from embracing a strong work ethic, a mindset of diligence, and a long-term vision.

Many companies hire talent solely based on their hard skills—engineers who can code, salespeople who can sell, marketers who can market, and everything in between. Here at Toptal, we demand the best, but we care even more that the attitude of everyone on our team is tightly aligned with our Leadership Principles. We value attitude over everything, and it’s core to our success.

A bit about Toptal

Toptal is optimized for hyper-innovation and hyper-growth. If you admire the culture at places like Amazon, Tesla, Intel, and startups that push the limits of innovation while demanding extreme time and energy to become a success, then you will love working at Toptal.

Toptal is not only a place to progress your career; it is a place to progress your idea of what quality means. It is a place to progress your idea of what depth means. It is a place to progress your ideas and learn how to develop extreme innovations that push business and technology forward.

What does this mean in practice? For starters, we work extremely hard. As a remote company, we don’t know or care how many hours you spend sitting in a chair—we care about results. We are a company of driven, ambitious individuals who care about impact, and impact requires raw effort. We expect you to be proud of having that level of impact and to be eager for more.

We are also a quality-first company. We focus on the top for talent and the top for clients, and this principle permeates through to all of our work as well. We take pride in our work. We think carefully about how to maximize the impact of everything we do, regardless of how small it is. We pay attention to details and are not ok with errors. We’re not ok with broken windows. We act as if each project we take on is a reflection of our character. By pushing ourselves to our limits, we progress our idea of what quality is and what we can achieve. We get better, fast, and we look back at our own growth and at the impact of what we’ve built to learn how to execute even better in the future.

If you want to create a programming language that forever changes how developers work with business processes, then you join Toptal. If you want to push forward one of the most cutting-edge software systems ever created for running a business, you join Toptal. If you want to have fast-paced conversations that quickly get to the core of an issue, you join Toptal. If you want to be surrounded by people who focus on the long-term but still seize every single day to grow the business, you join Toptal. If you want to join a company that is frequently copied by its competitors for its originality and constant success, then you join Toptal.

If you want to be first, innovating, and leading the future, you join Toptal.

There are many reasons, however, why you should not join Toptal. For example, a common misconception about remote work is that it equates to an easy job. Not here. In our experience, you will work harder than you’ve ever worked before, but if you’re motivated by impact, you will be happier at work than you’ve ever been. You also do not join Toptal if you think teams should not have aggressive deadlines and goals. You do not join Toptal if you think there are things in this universe that cannot be measured. You do not join Toptal if you want to simply A/B test ideas without making sure everything passes our quality standards first. You do not join Toptal if you’re just going to copy competitors because you can’t think of better ideas yourself. You do not join Toptal if you don’t wake up every single day and ask yourself how you can be better, surround yourself with people who think in the same way, and take it as a matter of principle to be the best.

You join Toptal to win, to be original, and to work with the best.

Leadership Principles

At Toptal, leaders must set the standard when it comes to culture and, over the years, we’ve identified several characteristics that have driven our success. The following are our Leadership Principles.

Leaders must be:

Driven

You are driven to achieve extraordinary outcomes. You push yourself and those around you to be their best and accountable. You drive your teams to push beyond what they believe is possible. You are relentlessly resourceful and take ownership of any problem you see.

Skilled

You are extremely skilled in your area of expertise, and you constantly strive to uplevel yourself. You coach individuals who are not as skilled as you, and you push them to be better. You apply your skills whenever and wherever needed.

Unifying

You excel at synthesizing discussions and ideas between many individuals. You have an ability to take ideas from those individuals and integrate them into a simple, brilliant outcome.

Ambitious

You set your sights on extraordinary outcomes. You do not let yourself or your team set modest goals and casually meet them. You push innovation, you push estimates, and you push expectations.

Inspiring

You care deeply about what you do and your dedication is noteworthy. You inspire people through stories and your own energy. You know how to show your team members the impact of their work and get them excited about the future.

Challenging

You never accept what someone says as truth if you disagree with it—no matter what authority that person has in the company—and you always challenge people directly, not through backchannels. You question and challenge ideas, from policy to product decisions, and you always seek to understand the why behind everything.

Revealing

You bring problems to the forefront. You call the attention of the executive team and the company as a whole as you proactively flag problems across product, engineering, sales, and every other part of the organization. *This is possibly the most important principle of all.

Understanding

When a problem comes to your attention, you must listen and understand it. This doesn’t mean that leaders must satisfy all perspectives—we’re a meritocracy, not a democracy—but you must listen and understand issues before reacting.

Knowledgeable

You understand the goals and objectives that exist within your team and can articulate them in a single sentence. You constantly share those goals and principles with your team to ensure everyone has perfect understanding and alignment.

Helpful

You’re always available to help and coach others—whether it’s with a technical challenge, an interpersonal issue, or any other kind of roadblock. *Your helpfulness to others is especially valued at Toptal.


To contrast this, leaders cannot be:

Lazy

We have an unlimited vacation policy, but we do not abuse it and we never leave our team hanging. It’s extremely important that no one burns out at Toptal, but we are not a 9-to-5 workplace as we see this mindset as detrimental to the strong work ethic we embrace. *Leaders must carefully plan their time off relative to the urgency and importance of their initiatives.

Laidback

We are not a company that gives easy deadlines or goals. Team leads are expected to be extremely ambitious and to demand the same from their teams.

Unconfident

We do not value leaders who are indecisive. We expect leaders to be able to confidently make decisions, back them up, and lead by example.

Scared

We do not tolerate leaders or team members who are scared to bring problems to the forefront or who shy away from difficult conversations. We expect all leaders and team members to proactively uncover and communicate problems at Toptal. *This is probably the most important example of what we are not.

Uninspiring

We thrive on energy at Toptal, and if you are uninspiring to those around you, your team will plateau. You should be energized by solving hard problems, making an impact, and charismatically communicating with your team.

Careless

We don’t tolerate people who are here only because of the paycheck or the ability to work remotely, as we believe that leads to being careless. You should work at Toptal, or any company for that matter, because you care about the people, the culture, and the mission.

Unavailable

We don’t work with leaders who want to turn off their phone at the end of the day because they don’t want to be bothered. As a leader at Toptal, you’re expected to be available and to inform your team whenever you cannot be by clearly setting expectations. This does not mean we will bombard you with messages every evening, or even frequently; however, there will come a day when your team needs you and you will need to be available.

Conflicted

You should not feel conflicted about the culture of your company. Our cultural values are unique, and you should be excited about joining a movement that embodies a spirit you believe in.

Leaders set the example because leaders lead by example

We are direct in our feedback and never afraid to challenge each other, regardless of title within the organization. We value people who see things that we don’t—people who can be contrarian. Things sometimes get heated, and that’s usually a good thing. It means we’re getting closer to making the right decision and that people truly care.

Our culture is ambitious. Your teammates will push you to your limits as you push them to theirs. You will meet difficult roadblocks and sometimes frustration. You will work through challenges and take pride in your growth and impact, and that of the company you help to build.

No problem is too hard at Toptal. When the existing tools for running a hyper-growth business weren’t good enough, we created entirely new programming languages and frameworks. When we needed new solutions, we released large-scale open source projects. When we needed to scale while maintaining an incredibly high bar for quality, we created world-class operational and screening processes. And we’ve shattered records set by every other company in our space along the way. We’ve achieved all of this not because of our hard skills, but because of the cultural values and attitude we embrace.

If these cultural values resonate with you, welcome to Toptal.

Work with the best, for the best.